BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It’s been more than a month since McFarland's City Manager, John Wooner, was last seen.
In his absence David Tooley has been appointed as the interim city manager and comes with a handful of experience. Tooley has served as a city manager in five different cities throughout his 40-year career, most recently for Madera, where he served for almost 25 years.
“You don’t see any of my personal things here, I still hope that one day he is going to walk back through the door, and I shake his hand and I give him the keys back to his office,” said Tooley.
Empty walls, mail of John Wooner’s and a board full of things to do for the city manager, is still waiting on the wall, allegedly written by Wooner.
Tooley is making it his goal to cross some of those things off of that list.
“The agreement with fire department is on my top three list, then preparation for the budget for council consideration,” Tooley said. “The city has some significant economic development prospects they are working with and it’s opportunity to create deals and jobs for McFarland.”
Tooley has been the acting city manager of McFarland for eight days and was asked to come out of his 18-month retirement due to the disappearance of Wooner who has been missing for five weeks.
“I would really like to just work in just an interim position it really is rewarding, but I miss my grandchildren,” Tooley said. “I know that sounds a little sentimental, but as we get older our family defines our lives.”
The father and grandfather of two, and just in his first week, is leading one of McFarland‘s biggest task, negotiating fire services for the City of McFarland.
“Fire services are among the basic essential that cities provide, and Kern County correctly wants to recover their full cost of service, but McFarland has financial limitations,” Tooley added. “We have to work together to find a solution that meets the interest of both parties.”
Tooley says he's just picking up Wooner's work and helping the city during this difficult time.
“I am just an average guy who gets to do a very special job and I feel fortunate,” Tooley said. “The job itself providing services for people in the community that’s what speaks to me and its never about me.”
Tooley shared that he’s up to the challenge, but the current agreement says that his role is not to exceed over six months unless city council decides to extend that term.